cover image Four Below: 
An Inspector McLusky Novel

Four Below: An Inspector McLusky Novel

Peter Helton. Soho Constable, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61695-082-8

The English city of Bristol, during a bitter cold winter, provides the backdrop for Helton’s atmospheric second crime novel featuring Det. Insp. Liam McCluskey (after 2011’s Falling More Slowly). Helton focuses on McCluskey’s continuing difficulty in adjusting to his new posting, after having been in Southampton, but also spares time for the perspectives of his colleagues, notably fellow Det. Insp. Kat Fairfield, and a variety of witnesses and victims in a wave of violence apparently connected to drug kingpin Ray Fenton’s recent jailing. In true procedural style, the brooding, disheveled detective’s attempt to discover the common cause behind such disparate events as a criminal’s fatal car crash, the discovery of severed body parts, and the sale of poisoned heroin reveals much about police work’s unglamorous reality. Helton’s strong feeling for character, place, and mordant humor should compensate most readers for a plot that never quite gathers momentum. (Jan.)